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The Royal National Lifeboat Institution - Saves Lives at Sea



Kinghorn RNLI lifeboat has had a busy 2015, with the volunteer crew attending over 40 callouts, and also marking 50 years of service during their golden anniversary celebrations.

The volunteer crew is on call 24/7 365 days a year, and will continue to be ready to answer the pager, throughout the festive period. Kinghorn Lifeboat covers much of the Forth, responding to incidents from Largo across to Aberlady and westwards to the Forth Bridges.

Kinghorn Lifeboat Station has enjoyed huge support from the local community over the past year with a number of special events held to mark the Golden Anniversary. The year began with the now traditional Loony Dook at Kinghorn beach on New Year’s Day.

Alan McIlravie, Lifeboat Operations Manager, reflected on a memorable year for the station, ‘The local community has continued to show great support and affection for their local lifeboat station.

‘We have held a number of events throughout the year, some especially to mark our 50th anniversary, and these have been very successful. Our volunteer crew has also been very busy with regular training and attending a number of challenging callouts.

‘Our flagship event to mark 50 years was held in May, when a very successful Shindig raised the roof at Pettycur Bay. Over 260 supporters from the local community and flank stations at Queensferry and Anstruther attended the event. It was a fantastic evening, with an excellent band, and everyone who came along enjoyed a wonderful celebration of dance, great music and of course, stovies.

‘In June the station was recognised for its service when Fife Council held a Civic Reception and a number of personnel were invited to receive the award, led by the Station Chairman, Bill Tulloch.

‘Later in June, local MSP David Torrance tabled a Motion in the Scottish Parliament to pay tribute to the crew, fundraisers, and all those who support the RNLI in general and Kinghorn Lifeboat in particular. Strong cross-party support was evident with many MSPs speaking warmly, and these tributes are recorded into the Scottish Parliament's history.

‘It was both reflective and uplifting to hear such fine praise heaped on us and our predecessors. My colleagues and I were surprised and impressed by the depth of the research that had been undertaken by Mr Torrance and his fellow MSPs as well as the genuine warmth and affection articulated towards the RNLI.’

Sheona Smith, fundraising chairperson, echoed Alan McIlravie’s sentiment that the fundraising team had again felt a great deal of support from the local community.

Sheona said, ‘the annual station Open Day was held in July. A magnificent turn out of supporters, along with partner rescue agencies helped make the event very successful, with £5,500 being raised for the RNLI. Attendees were also wowed with a display by our lifeboat, Anstruther lifeboat, and also the final ever display in Kinghorn of a Royal Navy Sea King helicopter, which will be retired on 1st January 2016. This iconic aircraft will be missed by many.

‘As well as our annual spring and winter coffee morning events, we also held our second Afternoon Tea in September, and our very first RNLI Fish Supper event in the lifeboat station boat hall in October.’

The station has been very fortunate with floral displays in both Kinghorn and
Kirkcaldy specially designed to mark the station’s first 50 years. In Kinghorn, local group Kinghorn in Bloom designed many of their planting schemes around town in RNLI colours. At Kirkcaldy’s main garden, at the library and war memorial, a stunning flower bed was dedicated to Kinghorn lifeboat station.

The station has also suffered sadness when Station Chairman, Bill Tulloch, passed away in July after a short illness. Bill was a huge supporter of the RNLI at Kinghorn, being one of the crewmembers from the early days in the late sixties into the seventies. He then spent over 40 years in the local Coastguard Rescue Team, rising to be Station Officer before retiring in 2009. Bill then re-joined the RNLI as Station Chairman. Over the past two years, Bill chaired the committee tasked with delivering the Golden Anniversary celebrations. He will be greatly missed by everyone.

Kinghorn Lifeboat volunteers have launched 46 times in 2015, spending over 60 hours at sea, rescuing or assisting 28 people, and saving 2 lives.

The lifeboat has been involved in a range of calls. A woman was saved when the dinghy she was sailing in capsized off Inchkeith in August. Unable to get back in the boat, the lifeboat crew recovered the woman from the sea and brought her back to Kinghorn before she was taken to hospital to make a full recovery.

Some of the callouts had tragic endings. One of the largest search’s in the Forth in recent years took place after three fishermen died when their small boat capsized off East Wemyss. A large scale search involving Kinghorn and Anstruther lifeboats and a RAF helicopter took place. Earlier in the year, the lifeboat was involved in a search for a kayaker off Musselburgh. Unfortunately, his body was found during the search.

Lifeboat helmsman, Neil Chalmers summarised, ‘We’ve had another busy year in 2015. As usual, we have answered a range of callouts, and our volunteer crew has stepped up each time. Our teams have taken part in some large searches, unfortunately not all with successful outcomes.

‘A number of callouts make all the training and commitment worthwhile, with two lives saved during the year. These included the rescue of a lone fisherman, in May, who became stranded on rocks off Buckhaven at 02.15am, and the rescue of a woman who ended up in the water after the dinghy she was sailing in capsized.

‘We also had some interesting calls, with one highlight being when we assisted in the rescue of a pod off dolphins in Burntisland bay. This was in support of British Divers Marine Life Rescue and the local Coastguard Rescue team.

‘All of these callouts rely on our crew training regularly, and being ready 24/7 to go to sea. The boat and launch equipment is becoming more advanced, and regular practice is necessary to keep the whole crew proficient.

‘This year, each of our four crews will go to sea once or twice a week, as well as taking part in classroom training, and other courses offered by the RNLI. Currently, a number of our crew are working through Day Skipper and Yachtmaster qualifications, which involves 2-4 hours work per week. We have also undertaken exercises with our flank stations at Queensferry and Anstruther, and partner agencies, including local Coastguard Rescue Teams.’

The RNLI has launched its new campaign called ‘Respect the Water’ in 2015. The main aim of this initiative is to reduce coastal fatalities by half, by 2024. This slight change in direction means the RNLI charity is now becoming a more proactive organisation, as well as continuing its traditional reactive nature, and is taking part in various campaigns to improve water safety, and raise awareness of the dangers of water.

The RNLI is employing a network of Coastal Safety Officers, who are recruiting Volunteer Community Safety Officers to assist with developing local Coastal Safety Plans. Each region has a community plan which considers the risks in each area, and lists the aims to improve safety in the area. For example, within the Forth, the ongoing issue of Cramond Island and people regularly being cut-off is the subject of initiatives to raise awareness of the hazards of the island, and being cut-off by the tide.

2016 will bring another busy year for the station. Fundraising is relentless; it costs around £410,000 per day to run the RNLI, which is entirely raised through fundraising events, legacies and donations. The volunteer crew will continue to train and respond to callouts throughout the year. If you would like to find out more about volunteering for the RNLI, please speak to a member of the crew, fundraising team, through Facebook or our Kinghorn Lifeboat website.